US stocks rally ahead of Trump-Xi talks

Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average in New York, on Nov 28, 2018.
Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average in New York, on Nov 28, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street finished a banner week on a positive note on Friday (Nov 30), borne higher by optimism about US-China trade talks while Microsoft overtook Apple in market value.

After treading water much of the morning, US stocks pushed higher after US President Donald Trump spoke somewhat hopefully about talks scheduled for Saturday night with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Earlier, European stocks retreated while Asian stocks advanced.

"There's some good signs. We'll see what happens," Trump said in Buenos Aires.

"If we could make a deal, that would be good. I think they want to and I think we'd like to." FTN Financial's Chris Low was encouraged by the signing of a North American trade agreement earlier Friday by Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto but said analysts were skeptical of a breakthrough on China.

"It was reassuring to see the... signing of the (NAFTA) agreement and Trump hinting that some kind of deal was likely to be worked out with China, although all the commentaries I read say, 'Don't believe it,'" Low said.

Major US indices all finished the session solidly higher to cap a strong week. The S&P 500's weekly gain of 4.8 percent was the best since December 2011.

The Nasdaq finished the session up 0.8 percent in a session notable for Microsoft's rise above Apple's market capitalisation. The software giant's shares climbed 0.6 percent, leaving it at $851.2 billion, edging out Apple by nearly $4 billion in value.

It was the first time in eight years that Microsoft closed above Apple, which slipped 0.5 percent.

LINGERING DOUBTS

But European bourses finished down, with Brexit worries weighing especially on London.

"The risks still remain tilted to the downside... as the tensions over trade and politics between China and the US hang over sentiment like a dark cloud," noted CMC Markets UK analyst Michael Hewson.

 
 
 

"We shall see but as the song says it takes two to tango, and it's not immediately clear that the United States wants to." Beyond the G20, traders are eyeing the following weekend's gathering of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, where Saudi Arabia and others are expected to cut output in a bid to support prices.

But oil prices dipped Friday in volatile deals, one day after New York crude had ducked below $50 per barrel for the first time in almost 14 months.

Among individual companies, hotel chain Marriott International slumped 5.6 percent after announcing it suffered a hack of data on as many as 500 million guests in the Starwood reservation database, which the company acquired in 2016.